There are some great matchups in the first round of the 2014 NHL Playoffs. Competing for a Stanley Cup is a beautiful thing. This is my favorite time of the year, so here are my predictions for round 1. I also want to add that I am not going to do the amount of games each series will take.
(1)Boston Bruins vs. (4)Detroit Red Wings: The Bruins have the unfortunate draw of the team that beat them in 3 of 4 meetings during the regular season. To me; that is a complete non-factor. The Wings got the better of the B’s during the regular season, but this is the playoffs. The B’s are playing better on an otherworldly level right now, and I’m not sure Detroit has the depth to beat them. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are proven winners in the playoffs, but they are surrounded by loads of young talent with a lack of inexperience. They are also sporting a goaltender in Jimmy Howard, who is coming off his worst career season. If the Bruins stick to their game plan and contain Detroit’s speedy forwards. I believe they can win this series. Pick: Boston Bruins
(2)Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (3)Montreal Canadiens: This is a bit of a tough one to call so I am going to keep it as brief as possible. I believe the Canadiens will win this series because of their depth up front. Sure the Lightning have Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan up front, also surprise rookies Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, but the Habs have Thomas Vanek, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, etc. They also have the advantage in goal. Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop has been outstanding this season, but he is injured and will miss game one. If the Habs can take one from the Lightning in Tampa, the series is over. Pick: Montreal Canadiens
Let me start out by saying this: I absolutely love Dennis Seidenberg. He is arguably the single most underrated player in the game today. That can obviously be argued, but to me it is something I feel confident saying.
When it was reported last week that the “German Machine” was skating again, I knew everyone was going to completely lose their minds over it. “Oh my god he is going to come back” and “This is why the Bruins have been so quiet about his recovery” are two phrases that have been heard commonly from fans and media alike since the news broke.
I hate to be Mr. Negative here, but I don’t he is going to be able to come back in time, and even if he did; how effective do you think he would be?
If Seides does get cleared to play at some point during the postseason, does it make sense for the B’s to play him? Before you all say “YES, DUH”, let’s put it into perspective. He has not played a game since his injury on December 27th. He just started skating last week, for a brief 15 minutes mind you, and he did so by himself away from the team.
If he were to return, it would be in the time period around the Conference Finals against possibly the Pittsburgh Penguins or Philadelphia Flyers, or the Stanley Cup Finals against any number of outstanding western clubs.
Despite winning NESN’s Seventh Player Award during yesterday’s matinee game against the Philadelphia Flyers; Reilly Smith’s season has been one big roller coaster.
Smith really flew out of the gate for the Bruins and made the lack of production from Loui Eriksson (due to two concussions) a non-factor in justifying the controversial Tyler Seguin trade on July 4th of last year. His performance was good enough to earn him a spot on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s line.
It was with Bergy and Marchy that Smith’s game really flourished. In the first half of the season, before the Olympics, he performed excellently with 42 points in 57 games. Since the Olympic break; Reilly Smith has 8 points in 31 games.
I am not going to sugar coat it for the young winger, he has been completely ineffective and invisible for the past 31 games. In fact; it has gotten to the point where I am only noticing the guy when he blows a glorious scoring opportunity. His crossbar during yesterday’s game being a perfect example.
I am not hear to get down on the guy, because he does play well in all three zones thanks to tutelage from Bergeron, and he still makes good plays under pressure. To me he is trying too hard and constantly forcing plays to his linemates. He is also guilty of one of biggest pet peeves in all hockey… too many moves that results in a turnover.
There have been a number of Bruins who have done this very thing over the years; Brad Marchand is guilty of it often, Phil Kessel used to do it too (remember how many times he went off-sides because of that one extra move at the blue line?). Reilly has been doing it a lot lately in search of his confidence.
I could think of a profound way to set up this article, but the title is doing so flawlessly. Jarome Iginla joined the Bruins during free agency after rejecting them so publicly during the trade deadline last season. It would be really easy to be a bitter little New Englander and hate on the guy, but I am going to go ahead and take the high road.
Iginla has been one of the best players on the team this season, he has completely come as advertised, and is contributing in tons of ways that don’t contribute to his stat line (which is good by the way).
It is becoming more apparent game after game; that Jarome Iginla needs to be re-signed by the B’s and given a multi-year (2-3 years, nothing crazy) to stay with this team for as long as the “window” open.
The former Flames’ captain and future hall of famer has contributed to the terrific consistency line-mates David Krejci and Milan Lucic have shown this season. Krejci has had his most complete season to date as a member of the Bruins. The Czech center has 16 goals, 44 assists, and a +33 in 69 games. Looch has been having his best season as a member of the B’s. He has 21 goals, 31 assists, and a +26.
The numbers for Krejci and Lucic are great, but it is the compete level and consistency that I mentioned above, which has contributed to their overall success. I attribute those two things to the presence of Jarome Iginla. The Bruins’ top line has never looked better.
I’ve gotten pretty tired of all of the various fans, radio stations, and media outlets complaining about Loui Eriksson. We get it, Tyler Seguin is having a great year in Dallas right now. We get it, Eriksson hasn’t lit the scoreboard on fire since arriving here.
In short; here is what I hear on a daily basis in regards to #21: “wah wah, piss and moan, Tyler Seguin, wah wah, why don’t we trade this guy? Wah”.
I don’t think people realize that value of having a guy like Eriksson in the lineup. He is a surefire top 6 forward on any team in the NHL, and he’s currently playing on the Bruins’ third line right now. Is that a waste? Nope, that is some pretty outstanding depth. Seriously; do you realize how fortunate the B’s are to have someone of his caliber on the 3rd line? Do people even comprehend how sick that is?
Okay, Loui hasn’t put up the numbers we all thought he would, but there are legitimately good reasons as to why this has happened yet. For starters; Eriksson has suffered two pretty brutal concussions this season. Show me one player who was able to come back from two concussions in a season who has played better than Loui has this season. You will be hard pressed to do so.
Let’s not forget the fact that he completely had his teeth re-arranged in a game earlier this season too. Oh, and let us not forget the fact that he is playing for a completely new team after spending his entire career in Dallas. Those transitions can be hard on players.
Hopefully by now all the crybabies are done whining over who the Bruins acquired on trade deadline day. In all seriousness, did you honestly expect the Bruins to land Thomas Vanek or Marian Gaborik? Could the B’s have done more to land a defenseman? Yes, but does anyone really consider Andrew MacDonald to be the guy? I don’t, in fact he wouldn’t be more than a bottom pairing guy on a good team.
I digress, after all we are here to talk about the latest additions to the B’s in defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter.
I’ll talk about the littlest fish first. Corey Potter is a solid depth pick-up off of waivers from the Edmonton Oilers. He is more of a back-up plan should one of the team’s starters get injured in the upcoming grind that is the March schedule. I would be surprised to see him play in a ton of games (if any) for the B’s, but it is nice to have a guy with some experience on a team with so many young defenseman.
Potter hasn’t played in a ton of NHL games, but he is the type of guy that can step right into the lineup on any given night if need be. In 15 games with the Oilers this season Potter had 5 assists in 16 games. The 30 year old Lansing, Michigan native has played in 120 NHL games, and has registered 8 goals, 24 assists, and a -9.